Carcinoma showing thymus-like differentiation (CASTLE) outside the thyroid gland is extremely rare. Here we report two cases of CASTLE of the major salivary gland. The tumors occurred in the parotid gland of a 31-year-old female (Case 1) and in the submandibular gland of a 40-year-old female (Case 2). Both tumors showed a lobulated growth pattern, and were histologically composed of a nested or sheet-like proliferation of carcinoma cells with round- to oval-shaped nuclei, distinct nucleoli and pale eosinophilic cytoplasm, accompanied by various degrees of lymphocytic infiltration. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that the tumors were positive for pan-cytokeratin, p40, CD5, CD117 and bcl-2. In addition, PD-L1 expression was seen in 10–90% of tumor cells. After the initial surgery, Case 1 remained tumor-free for 20 months, while Case 2 suffered lymph node recurrence at 4 months, followed by lung metastasis, which was treated with chemoradiotherapy and anti-PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, resulting in a partial response. The present findings indicate that an extrathyroid counterpart of CASTLE can occur as a primary salivary gland neoplasm. Salivary CASTLEs seem to show a wide range of biological behavior, and long-term follow-up may be needed. Immune checkpoint inhibitor targeting PD-1 might become a promising treatment option in patients with CASTLE; however, further study with a larger number of cases is necessary to establish the optimal therapeutic strategy and prognostic factors for this rare cancer.
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